Haiti: Hurricane Matthew
AMURT has very positive experience running Child-Friendly Spaces (CFS) after disasters and set up several in the north-west after Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti in October 2016. The program has now completed its first month of operation, and is fully operational in all 6 villages. AMURT is engaging 6 days a week 1,200 children in the villages of Coridon, Point des Mangles, Magazen, Las Caohn, Savanne Naje, and Gran Savan. These are the hardest hit and most vulnerable communities in the Commune.
The duration of the program will be 3 months. AMURT has a total 48 lead facilitators, 48 assistant facilitators, 28 cooks, 6 security, and 6 cleaning personnel. All staff are local, recruited by the elected village steering committees in charge of every CFS. AMURT has offered them 2 days of monthly training and accompaniment by the InnovEd team in Port-au-Prince. All CFSs are integrated with the local schools, often utilizing facilities which the project has helped repair and school leadership structures which we build the capacities of.
The food is purchased all locally, from local merchants and producers. The water is brought via trucks and stored in large plastic reservoirs for drinking and all other needs. The project is building a total of 6 public latrines in close proximity to the CFSs in 3 of the villages where no access to sanitation is available.
The CFS program is managed by an education specialist who has 30 years experience in management of schools, who works in close collaboration with the InnovEd team. Most of the facilitators have little to no experience in education, and the project seeks to work with their talents and inspiration to create a dynamic atmosphere of informal learning based on creativity and exploration. The activities vary from village to village based on the local capacities of the staff. In all sites the program integrates art, dance, karate, music, sports and cooperative games, theater and storytelling, etc. We plan to introduce yoga in the month of January with the start of a training program for yoga facilitators.
The CFS program has been received with an extraordinarily positive response on behalf of the local communities. The feedback we have received has shown deep appreciation and recognition of the already noticeable impact of the program on children’s psycho-social state. In our informal questionnaires and feedback forums we have gathered input from parents and children which reveal a significant increase in the level of personal wellbeing and happiness compared to the aftermath of Matthew. Children are visibly healthier, show signs of happiness, sing songs and play games they have learnt in the CFS program. Interviewed Directors and educators of adjacent schools also report already positive impacts on the children after only a month of informal after-school programming. The evaluation of the results of the project after only one month of activities indicate that it is well placed and if continued to be managed as in the beginning phase it will give long-term results which will be significant and durable.
The most powerful Hurricane in the Caribbean in a decade passed over Haiti in October 2016 with devastating results. Violent winds and heavy downpours have deeply affected the country that has not recovered from the mega earthquake in 2010 and remains the poorest country in the western hemisphere. AMURT has a large team in the northwest of Haiti in the commune of Anse Rouge. Initial assessment showed hundreds of houses destroyed or damaged. 90% of salt basins near the coast, an important source of income, are destroyed. A majority of roads and farms on the coast are severely damaged as well.
Download the initial situation report
AMURT-Haiti is a chapter of AMURT-USA (Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team). Its mission is to strengthen local capacities through a participatory approach while fostering Universal values. It has been active in Haiti since 1994, and focuses on long-term development programs in innovative education, sustainable agriculture and protected environment, women leadership and rural entrepreneurship. Its mandate tasks it to respond to disasters through a holistic approach, linking relief for those who are most vulnerable to durable and self-sufficient development. For more information please visit www.amurthaiti.org.